Meredith Azevedo

Advisor: Karen C. Seto


This project aims to improve the scientific understanding of the historical relationship between urbanization and agriculture to determine if access to major agricultural lands has been/is positively correlated with urban growth. Critically evaluating this historical relationship will provide insight into urbanization’s potential future impact on food production. Urbanization directly and indirectly affects global agriculture through the physical expansion of urban lands, changing the portfolio of foods consumed as a result of increases in income, and the creation of highly concentrated centers of food demand. Agricultural experts forecast that urbanization’s impact on food production will be significant because of the expected changes in diet associated with urbanization (Popkin 1999, Godfrey et al. 2010).

The historical relationship between urban growth and agricultural lands is not well understood and has not been examined at global scales. Although it is widely quoted that cities have grown in the most productive lands, there is little empirical evidence that supports this idea (Avellan et al. 2012). This project will determine spatial correlations between 5,000 years of urban growth and major global cropping regions using GIS and remote sensing tools.

Specific research questions include: